Blair High School Principal Tom Anderson offered some statistics for those gathered to honor veterans Monday.
There are 860,000 reserve personnel. There were 2,400 soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
“I could continue to throw numbers at you during this Veterans Day assembly, but that's all it would be is numbers,” Anderson said. “Unless you have a family member, a friend, a neighbor who you know specifically, you know their story, these figures are just numbers.”
BHS recognized service members during its annual ceremony, which was organized by the Blair FFA chapter. Thirty veterans who served in or during Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan wars were in attendance.
“Veterans Day began to honor those people who were willing to risk the ultimate sacrifice for others. It is a day to thank those who currently serve or have served in the military to protect what so many of us take for granted,” Anderson said. “Unless you have a family member, a friend, a neighbor who is a veteran and you truly know their story, too many of us take this day for granted.”
Carl Lorenzen, commander of the Washington County American Legion, said veterans are “acutely aware” of the sacrifices made by service members.
“We are equally aware of the cost of those sacrifices, he said. “We know the value of the lessons that our military service bestowed upon us. These are things that we cannot afford to lose to time.”
As they honored the living veterans, Lorenzen said it was important to remember the words of Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, the Iraq War's first living recipient of the Medal of Honor.
“Sgt. Bellavia related that all throughout our history, we have had people who have dissented. That have disagreed,” he said. “And we found ways to put everything aside and focus on what's best for this nation, what's best for mission success.”
During the ceremony, BHS student Lillian Knudtsen recognized Blair Community Schools staff who are veterans, while student Bobby Busk, on behalf of all BHS students, thanked the veterans for their service. The BHS choir sang the national anthem and “Homeland.”
Scott Wachter, a 30-year military veteran and an Omaha firefighter, gave a moving performance of Lee Greenwood's “God Bless the USA.”
Student Matt Simonsen led the Pledge of Allegiance, while senior Trevor Anderson played “Taps” to close out the ceremony.
The Blair Future Business Leaders of America chapter participated in a ceremony at the Blair American Legion.
Carley Damme, who offered a youth message, said those who serve this country have “an immense amount of perseverance, selflessness, integrity and commitment.”
“Veterans are never told enough how thankful and blessed our nation is to have them,” she said. “Today is a day to honor those who have served and are currently serving, but every day should be a day to honor them.”
Steve Rounds, commander of the Hain-Flynn American Legion Post 154, offered a brief synopsis of the last 100 years of the American Legion. Blair's charter was established in 1919.
Carl Rennerfeldt, a U.S. Navy veteran, read the names of 22 local veterans, which will be added to the Washington County Veterans Tribute Plaza Memorial. They served in various branches and conflicts. The wall now has more than 7,000 names.
The Blair Bunch Quilters presented veteran Craig Saylor with a handmade quilt.
Carter Place in Blair also hosted a Veterans Day ceremony.
Names to be added to Washington County Veterans Tribute Plaza Memorial
Misti L (DICKEY) Armendariz, U.S. Air Force, died Nov. 21, 2011, buried in Blair Cemetery
William Dale Aronson, U.S. Army, born in Washington County, died Nov. 7, 2014, buried in Blair Cemetery
James Clyde Badger, U.S. Army, Indian wars (1886-1912), died Aug. 17, 1934, buried in Arlington Cemetery
William Baker, Civil War, died Dec. 25, 1904, buried in Blair Cemetery
W.F. Barney Bornschlegl, U.S. Army, World War II, Arlington superintendent of schools, 1954-1965
Robert O. Berthelsen, U.S. Army, World War II, 1942 graduate of Dana College, 1949 graduate of Trinity Seminary, pastor
Hans Bornholdt, Civil War, GAR, died Aug. 7, 1931, buried in Blair Cemetery
James L. Bowes, U.S. Army, World War I, died at Lincoln VA Hospital, buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Blair
Alan C. Brandes, 6th Army Band, 1955-1957, Dana College music teacher
Michael A. Buckman, U.S. Army National Guard for six years, died July 3, 2019, Fort Calhoun
Taylor E. Burt, U.S. Army, currently serving in Kuwait, BHS graduate
Robert De Meulmeester, U.S. Navy for 10 years, OPPD employee for 35 Years
Nathan C. Journey, U.S. Air Force, currently serving in Okinawa, BHS graduate
Jeff Kloster, U.S. Air National Guard, 1985-1993, BHS student
Neal Kloster, U.S. Air Force, 1985-1993, BHS student
Eunice Rolland Kuhr, Cadet Nurse Corps, 1943-1947
Madelyn Marie Musick, Cadet Nurse Corps, 1944-1947
Amber L. Sheardown, U.S. Marine Corps, enlisted 2016, currently serving
Kevin L. Sheets, U.S. Army, Arlington resident
Rick L. Sheets, U.S. Coast Guard, 1970-1974, Arlington resident
Caleb J. Short, U.S. Air Force, enlisted July 2019, currently serving
Leonard C. Sorensen, Merchant Marine, World War II, U.S. Army, Korea, buried Fort Logan, Colo.